Giro d'Italia 2023 stage one preview - a time trial along the coast
The Giro d'Italia opens with an uncomplicated time trial along the coast – the key factor that may hamper a rider's chances is the wind
Start location: Fossacesia
Finish location: Ortona
Start time: 13:50 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:09 CEST
The Costa dei Trabocchi is a stretch of the Adriatic coast famous for its ‘trabocchi’, stationary wooden structures that have for centuries been used for fishing. These striking constructions consist of rickety bridges suspended above the ocean leading to a raised platform, built so that the fishermen could cast large nets via long antennae into the deeper currents further into the sea. Some are still in use today, while others have been converted into restaurants and are a popular tourist site.
It’s often said that patience is a virtue in fishing, but that applies more to hobbyists doing the activity as a relaxed morning activity — for those operating the trabocchi, who rely on those fish for their livelihood, efficiency is paramount, hence the need for such a smart innovative invention. Similarly, the cyclists who will race down the Ciclovia dei Trabocchi bike path (converted from a discontinued railroad) that runs parallel to the coast during the opening stage of the 2023 Giro d’Italia will make full use of the sport’s own technological advancement to ride the 19.6km time trial course as fast as possible, in stark contrast to the ambling pace this path is usually ridden on with by everyday visitors.
Read more: Giro d'Italia 2023 route: full details of the 106th Corsa Rosa
Yet the art of patience is still something important for those not strictly interested in winning this stage, but the Giro d’Italia overall. A large component of Grand Tours is waiting, from withdrawing until the right moments on the right days to attack, to the hours of recovery and inactivity in between stages, to being careful not to peak in form too soon. The GC riders will want to be up there and not lose much time, but a storming ride here might counterintuitively be detrimental to their hopes of winning the race come the final week.
Stage one profile of the Giro d'Italia 2023
This stage comprises 19.6 of the 73.2 kilometres covered in time trials at this year’s Giro d’Italia, the highest amount of any edition since 2013. Shorter than the second time trial and lacking the mountainous terrain of the one of the race’s penultimate day, it will be the least decisive of the three stages against the clock, with gaps between the favourites likely to be measured in seconds rather than minutes.
The terrain is uncomplicated, with the road remaining reliably flat until veering inland to climb a category four climb to the finish in Ortona, but even this is modest and shouldn’t slow down the heavy rouleurs too much. One factor that could come into play though is the wind, given how exposed this coastline road is — there could be a significant deal of fortune in the outcome of the time trial, and each participant will be praying it blows kindly when they’re out on the course.
The plethora of time trials in this Giro has attracted both those GC contenders who can gain the upper hand against the clock as well as the discipline's real purists.
Two-time world champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) is one of the latter, and has previous experience of grabbing the race's first maglia rosa after an opening time trial in both of his appearances at the Giro.
Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) is another decorated time trialist on the start line, but his form is somewhat of an unknown having not raced since abandoning Itzulia Basque Country in early April. His team-mate Edoardo Affini could go well here in his home race, as could former European champion Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) who has looked in strong form throughout the Classics.
Dutch champion Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Tour de Romandie prologue winner Josef Černý (Soudal - Quick-Step) could also feature towards the top of the standings if they have a good ride.
Primož Roglič is perhaps the strongest time trialist amongst the GC contenders, along with Evenepoel
Of course, there are two of the world's best time trialists starting here that have more of an eye on the overall win in three weeks. Olympic champion Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Belgian champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick-Step) will be going all-out here to seek any advantage they can early on in the GC, but both are also more than capable of winning the stage.
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) are the two other strong time trialists amongst the GC contenders, but they look to be a real outside shot for the stage victory amongst this field.
Based on previous experience, it's hard to look past Filippo Ganna for the victory on stage one. He's done it twice before, it's his home race, and he'll be wearing the colours of Italian champion, so the stage is seemingly perfectly set. Expect to see Evenepoel and Roglič breathing down his neck though.